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August 5, 2009

Discovery Secured To Launch Pad

Space shuttle Discovery reached Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday afternoon following a slow drive on the top of the crawler-transporter from the Vehicle Assembly Building. The 3.4-mile rollout began at 2:07 a.m. and ended with the launch platform secured in place at about 1:50 p.m. The move took longer than expected because of weather conditions, including lightning. The crawler also had to pause occasionally so mud could be removed from its treads and bearings. Technicians will quickly ready the shuttle to host the crew's countdown dress rehearsal known as the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT. Discovery's seven astronauts plan to fly to Kennedy on Wednesday for the training activity which concludes later in the week with a complete practice countdown, minus liftoff, involving the crew and the launch team.

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Image Caption: Lightning makes a dramatic background and slows the rollout of space shuttle Discovery to Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday. First motion of the shuttle out of the Vehicle Assembly Building was at 2:07 a.m. Photo credit: Courtesy of Justin Dernier

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